Members of the Cleveland community were all ears as students took the stage to share their thoughts on social and emotional wellness at a recent youth summit presented by the City of Cleveland.
On Oct. 24, close to 300 students from 24 Cleveland high schools gathered at Cleveland Metropolitan School District's East Professional Center for the summit titled, "The Struggle is Real: Skills for Today, Opportunities for Tomorrow." The event was an opportunity for students passionate about making a difference in their community to speak with like-minded individuals and learn about the resources available to help them foster change.
To support the initiative, the Cleveland Browns helped fund the program, with funding centered on the healthy relationships portion of the event. With a focus on healthy relationships and supporting youth in our community, the Browns provided an additional $75,000 in microgrants to organizations throughout Northeast Ohio.
"The relationship skills that children develop during adolescence help them make positive decisions about other aspects of their lives including school, work and personal relationships," Cleveland Browns Vice President of Community Relations Jenner Tekancic said. "The Browns were proud to partner with the City of Cleveland to educate and encourage students to continue to build healthy relationships."
Throughout the event, students participated in workshops on topics such as healthy relationships, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and Browns CB Greg Newsome II were also present at the event to serve as the moderators for a fireside chat with students on the topic of mental health.
To kick off the summit, the Karamu House performed a short sketch highlighting the importance of healthy relationships with family, loved ones and the pressures of acceptance.
The summit was part of the "Thriving Youth Series," a group of events hosted in October to raise awareness of the importance of impactful youth development programming. Partners for the series included the City of Cleveland, Open Doors Academy, Starting Point, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, University Hospitals and the Youth Advocacy Leadership Coalition.
Participation allowed students to learn the ins and outs of mental and physical self-care, sharpen their professional skills, explore potential career paths and add resources to their tool belt to navigate the challenges of adolescence and foster personal growth.
"The mayor's office is committed to stewarding a youth agenda that centers youth voice and engages a wide range of partners to support quality programming and thoughtful policy," stated Sonya Pryor-Jones, Chief of Youth and Family Success. "We are thankful for the support of the Cleveland Browns in this inaugural event, and look forward to growing the Thriving Youth Series in 2024."
Throughout the year, the Browns seek opportunities to support youth by emphasizing the importance of healthy relationships while also championing youth football, education and social justice in the local community and throughout Ohio.